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Letters: Kikokushijo encounter trouble upon re-entry

I really enjoyed reading the articles “Kikokushijo: returnees to a country not yet ready for them” and “Returnees’ experiences drive a will to give something back” [by Teru Clavel, Learning Curve, May 5 and 12].

I was born in Japan but moved to Nairobi, Kenya, when I was 3 months old. I spent my whole life in a British international school, until university, where I completed my bachelor’s in psychology at the University of York, U.K. I am currently doing my master’s in Munich, Germany. I never attended a Japanese school (aside for a few months of kindergarten) and so although my Japanese understanding is of native level, my reading and writing skills in Japanese are hardly sufficient.

My parents tried their best to instill Japanese customs and mentality in me, and they often read Japanese books to me as well as recorded Japanese shows and movies for me to watch in my free time, but they also gave me the space to really absorb the different cultures I was exposed to. My primary school class proudly represented students from 30 different countries, and my teachers were also from all over the world. I feel blessed to have had the experiences that I had, and consider myself a global citizen.

My parents knew that we would be based in Kenya for a very long time, and never pushed me to be Japanese. There were only about three to four Japanese families that resided in Kenya for longer than a three-to-five-year contract, meaning my contact with Japanese children was very limited. There was never anyone my age to play with.

When I would visit Japan for the school holidays, my mother would organise meet-ups with her friend’s children, but I realised very early on that I had very close to nothing in common with them. I remember my summer as an 8-year-old, being very bored, as none of the kids I was being told to play with understood anything I was talking about — not due to a lack of language, but mainly due to the fact that my knowledge of the issues around the world was much greater, and I couldn’t find joy in sitting indoors and playing on computer games all day.

My school year had consisted of fundraising with my classmates for charities involved in AIDS orphans, raising awareness about poverty and generally having a very diverse curriculum. The Japanese children my age could barely point to Africa, let alone Kenya. I felt isolated when I wasn’t able to chip in to conversations that were all about the latest game or the latest TV show.

All my family and adults that I would meet in Japan would commend me and praise me for being able to speak two languages fluently and already be learning my third language (French) at the age of 7, but those who were the same age would always treat me like an outsider. In my teens, other kids my age started to have an interest in my life, but the questions that they would ask me were often absurd and I would find myself feeling embarrassed for them. They would ask me questions like “Do you live in a tree?” “Do you eat tigers?” (There are no tigers in Africa!) to which my replies must have seemed so obvious and rude, but I was shocked to see that some people were very naive.

I have considered moving back to Japan, several times. The first time was when I was trying to decide where I would go to university. I soon realised that, with my language level, I would only be hindering my education and so I decided to go to the U.K. instead. I have considered moving back to Japan for work, but again, my insufficient levels of Japanese put me at a disadvantage.

What I am most frustrated about is the lack of support for kikokushijo. Foreign companies pounce on the opportunity to hire someone that has experience overseas and can communicate in several languages, but I find that Japanese companies are wasting a good opportunity. They are simply unable to effectively take advantage of people who could give so much back to the country. Japan is increasingly more accepting of foreigners, but having a Japanese face (and passport) means that we have to conform to the Japanese norms. Whether it be for a job, or for social life, there is just no place for us.

At the end of last year, I travelled to Japan for a few days. I was with a non-Japanese friend, and we went around Tokyo. It was my first experience in Tokyo, without my parents, so I was excited to see how I would be able to cope alone. What I experienced was rather disappointing, and it has made it quite clear to me that I’ll probably stay away from Japan for a while longer.

We got lost while trying to find a particular exit at a train station and so I went to ask a man who was at the information counter. He curtly but politely pointed to the direction and told me I would find it if I went that way.

That didn’t help us at all, as five minutes later we were still unable to find the right exit. So we went back to the counter and this time, I told my friend to go and ask for directions and I would stand away from them — I was curious to test out my theory.

Not only did the man walk out from behind his desk, but he gave my friend such detailed directions that I was left pretty annoyed. I can only imagine this was because my friend is a foreigner (though he’s lived in Japan longer than I have and can read and write better than me!). From then on, I stuck to pretending to be a foreigner and would always ask in English. People are so much friendlier that way.

I am admittedly quite bitter about this issue, not because I don’t like being Japanese or that I don’t get treated fairly, but because I feel as though I have been dismissed even before being given a chance.

I currently teach English to Japanese expats, and I’m appalled at their level of English. When I applied to jobs in the U.K. for a Japanese company, I was turned down as my Japanese was insufficient (even though the work was in the U.K., in English). If I worked for a big company, I would rather hire someone that is able to communicate competently, especially if they are representing the company in a foreign country. But it seems that even those with terrible English are still sent abroad for long-term contracts. Sometimes I wonder how these people are even able to order food, let alone negotiate a business deal.

I do hope that Japan will open its eyes to the opportunities that are slipping away. Though the articles quoted many students who were generally happy to be kikokushijo and were able to integrate back into Japan, I certainly feel that among my friends, there are many of us who are too scared or have lost hope of moving back.

Thank you again for your article. It really made me feel that I’m not alone, and that there are definitely people out there who are trying to help us integrate back into Japan. I feel heartened that there are many others in my situation and that there might be a brighter future for me back in Japan!

MOMOKO UEDA
Munich

Shooting themselves in the foot

Having seen practically all sides of this issue save for being a kikokushijo myself, I’ve noticed several common recurring themes as to why kikokushijo have problems integrating into the workforce.

First, they overvalue and focus too much on their English/foreign language skills as well as overseas living experience. I can tell you that in 99 percent of the cases, these language skills, at least for new/recent grads, are a very minor aspect of the job. And coming in selling your languages is not only ineffective, its downright dangerous. Come in selling your overseas experience, especially in the wrong way and you aren’t getting the job.

Second, in terms of Japanese language ability, I’m surprised at the lack of training or guidance kikokushijo have had in preparing for interviews, often their lack of keigo [formal Japanese] usage (forgivable) or sometimes their refusal to use it. Often it seems they want to flaunt their outsider status. I’ve gotten feedback from clients in the past, such as, say, Dell that said, “He/She came into the interview like we were good friends, too casual Japanese language, etc.” Immediately out.

Third, there is a big issue from the domestic side that kikokushijo are too pushy, and way too soon. Again, this often stems from the kikokushijo relishing or appearing to relish outsider status, which to domestic Japanese seems like a form of cultural imperialism or gaiatsu [foreign pressure]. And believe me, I’m a doer, so I know the feeling, but I’ve seen kikoku roll into even places like PriceWaterhouseCoopers and think they are gonna change the place overnight. That doesn’t happen — anywhere — not even in the U.S., let alone Japan.

That said, with proper training of kikokushijo to understand these issues and some minor expectation-setting with the domestic firms, yes, kikokushijo would provide good value to Japanese firms — heck, when many gaishikei [foreign firms] first came to Japan in the ’70s and ’80s, they couldn’t get “pedigreed Japanese” workers, so they went for the kikokushijo that had the bilingual and bicultural skills.

JAMES SANTAGATA

Kids must be traumatized

I had a similar experience when we relocated to Italy after a 10-year spell in Quebec. I wasn’t totally fluent in Italian and spoke with a French accent. I was put back three times at school because I didn’t understand most of the lessons and the school culture was totally different to the Canadian one.

The [May 5] article seems to gloss over the fact that these kids are probably traumatised ( I know I was ) because of the cultural shock they have to go through: It’s not only about good grades and them being an “adaptable international citizen” or multicultural worker pawn to make businesses look good, but also the emotional upheavals they have to endure so that they can “fit in.”

Because of my bad experience, I’m left with emotional scars even to this day, always second-guessing myself and feeling I didn’t belong. Ironically, I found more acceptance and a feeling it was ok to be multicultural in a third country (the U.K.), where I’m currently residing.

FABRIZIO

View skewed toward the wealthy

The article [on May 5] was based on an extremely narrow case. Returnees who study at Keio Keio Shonan Fujisawa Junior and Senior High School and Shibuya Makuhari Shibuya Makuhari Senior and Junior High School are very few, and drawing out conclusions from these very scant samples is not only biased but is totally unrepresentative of the experiences of kikokushijo students.

Perhaps the author can give the percentage of the returnees who are studying in these institutions from the overall returnees in Japan? I’m pretty sure they are very few. They are very few because the kids who can get into these institutions in the first place are those whose parents are affluent enough.

Take Shizuoka, a prefecture where there are a lot of Brazilian, Filipino and Chinese returnees: By definition, they are also kikokushijo, but students with such backgrounds have a higher rate of not going to university and tend to integrate less well into society. Their condition is much more serious because although they came from abroad, they don’t have the resources they need to further their education or, for example, have a British accent when they speak their broken English.

The circumstances and environments that these wealthy children [mentioned in the article] experienced are relatively better. Talk to students in Shonan Fujisawa and Shibuya Makuhari and it might appear that all kikokushijo are well taken care of.

I suggest that you re-examine your subject and perhaps you can finally represent the circumstances of those who are in most need of help.

GEN HIDARI
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Pref.

Shunned and then exploited

How is it that a country like Japan with a globalized economy, a highly industrialized manufacturing base and a job market very dependent on export trade is not ready to fully accept the multicultural kikokushijo or school-age returnee? This must be one of the greatest cultural ironies in modern 21st-century Japan.

What, are these children “gaijin-tainted” and thus unable to fit in? Is the kikokushijo just a big “nail” that must be hammered down with a vengeance (as in the old Japanese proverb, “The nail that sticks up . . .”)?

From what was stated in this article: “It seems there are pockets — their family accepts them for who they are, or they go to a school where they have friends who are returnees or who have studied abroad.” Is the kikokushijo looked upon as some kind of social leper? Is Chiba Prefecture’s Shibuya Makuhari, a school that specializes in assisting returnees, an isolated leper colony of sorts? I’m surprised that these “contaminated” returnees aren’t kept in “quarantine” for six months to make sure they aren’t carrying cross-cultural rabies.

What does [Oxford professor Roger] Goodman mean when he suggests that kikokushijo should be “taken advantage of” or that “the state should be mobilizing them far more efficiently,” as if these returnees are a sort of industrial production unit to be efficiently used by Japan Inc.?

First the kikokushijo is shunned and then exploited! Ah, life is not fair.

ROBERT McKINNEY
Otaru, Hokkaido

Ten false assumptions

There are a number of unfounded assumptions in both the article and comments. I’ve taught hundreds of kikokushijo at the university level over the past 10 years.

1) Kikokushijo do not necessarily have any native knowledge of English or any other foreign language if they attended Japanese schools overseas.

2) There are numerous special programs available for kikokushijo.

3) They get preferential admission to elite private universities.

4) I have yet to have a kikokushijo tell me that they were bent out of shape by the experience.

5) Journalistic articles tend to deal with a tiny number of exceptional cases both good and bad.

6) Journalistic articles are written by people who do not work with kikokushijo.

7) Kikokushijo almost without exception come from affluent families, with the result that one hears more about kikokushijo than their numbers warrant.

8) For Japanese employers, foreign nationals graduating from elite Japanese universities are probably a better bet than kikokushijo because: a) they have full native speaker competency in their own language; b) they have full native cultural knowledge of their own country; c) they typically have near native competency in Japanese; d) they have enough on the ball to get into and graduate from top Japanese universities as outsiders.

9) It is not unusual in my experience for Chinese, Korean and European students from non-English speaking countries to have better English (and sometimes Japanese) than kikokushijo.

10) The situation of contemporary kikokushijo is quite different from what is was in the late ’70s when this amorphous category first attracted attention.

EARL KINMONTH

Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Gordon Graham

    Ueda San, perhaps the Japanese companies to which you applied are wary of the possibility that a condescending, know-it-all returnee like yourself will prove to be a demotivating influence within the company. Arrogance is not a trait the Japanese value highly regardless of your flawless English skills.

    • kyushuphil

      Not fair to accuse the girl of arrogance.

      She’s the messenger. She’s merely reporting a bit of fairly massive reality — that most Japanese with even ten years of English from Japanese schools and universities are totally helpless in actually using the language.

      You don’t like reality checks? You want to go ad hominem on people who report acutely true things from apt experience?

      It’s too bad that so many at the ministry of education in Japan so love to keep obligatory English courses aimed not at learning English, but only at continuing to play mindless games of regimentation with truly soporific textbooks.

      Of course this mass breeding of incompetence would spur in some vested parties the urge to smack anyone who brings in reality reports from valid experience.

      • Gordon Graham

        It’s hardly ad hominem when I’m pointing out that it’s precisely an attitude of superiority which could be preventing her from procuring employment in a Japanese company. According to her, Japanese raised in Japan are ignorant and lucky if they can even order a plate of food in English (while it may certainly be the case with her ESL students she implicitly suggests this must by extension be the case with her rival Japanese candidates), by comparison she is articulate and knowledgeable. This comparison is arrogant in scope. I can assure you my 7 year old Japanese son schooled in a public Japanese elementary school can point out Kenya on a map and while he has yet to learn that there are no tigers in Africa he knows there are no Komodo dragons in Japan and he could tell you so in perfect French, English or Japanese.

      • Max Erimo

        Ueda San, perhaps the Japanese companies to which you applied are wary of the possibility that a condescending, know-it-all ”attitude” you write.

        It then goes on to defy explanation that you should write ‘I can assure you my 7 year old Japanese son schooled in a public Japanese elementary school ……could tell you so in perfect French, English or Japanese’. If that is not condescending then we must be using different dictionaries.
        On the whole the general Japanese population schooled in public schools do know very little about the outside world.
        I congratulate you for having such a brilliant child.

      • Gordon Graham

        Why does it defy explanation? I’m not a Japanese company nor am I pining to work for one. I’m a Canadian guy who coaches hockey for a living…arrogance is a prerequisite in my profession.
        On the whole Japanese schooled in public schools know a heck of a lot more than you would like to have people believe.

      • Suki

        Aren’t Canadians supposed to be polite, nice and sweet? Kind of like the maple syrup they consume with everything, eh?

        I’m glad the education in Japanese public schools seems to have improved because several years ago my mother’s friend complained that students at the university she was lecturing at didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was. Since they were a couple of years older then I me, they would be in their early 30s now, so I guess some would probably have had children. I hope their children are taught who Nelson Mandela was and what he stood for.

        I hope that with this improved education the children are taught all sides of history concerning the invasion of Manchuria, the realities of comfort women, Pearl Harbour, POWs and all the other events in history that shaped their country and how it has shaped some of the stereotypes the ‘gaijins’ hold of the Japanese that are not glorifying and why. With this knowledgeable generation perhaps they are growing up to know that being different is fine and that no one really fits into a neat little box that can be used to determine social rank/status.

        Most of all, I hope they are growing up to know that name calling can be the most hurtful and demoralising thing one human being can do to to another.

      • Gordon Graham

        I agree. Saying to someone that it’d be surprising if they could order a plate of food or be able to point out Africa on a map is not a very nice thing to do.

      • kyushuphil

        Good for you that you’ve a fine 7-yr-old.

        But ask yourself this. Are you, as a Canadian originally, now raising your son here in Japan never to say anything negative about Canada — lest he be deemed arrogant, and unfit for employment in your home country, as you charge Momoko Ueda to be unfit for return to her home country merely for her own observing and speaking some very pithy truth?

      • Gordon Graham

        Again, your grammar is hard to follow. I suggest you have a Japanese schoolboy edit it for you.

      • Gordon Graham

        Oh and here’s a sample from my daughter’s textbook. She’s in the second grade at a public Japanese high school. These are sample sentences which she is to use as a guideline to write similar sentences expressing the notion of concession:
        We enjoyed the “hanami” picnic despite the cold weather.
        She is an excellent volleyball player despite being short.
        My father went golfing even though it was raining.
        I made it to the concert on time in spite of the traffic.
        I like snowboarding. I don’t like winter, though.
        The textbook explains the patterns in which these terms are used. For example, despite is followed by a noun or gerund.
        I’m unclear how learning how to use useful phrases like despite, inspite of, even though etc. is soporific.
        Perhaps you could explain.

      • kyushuphil

        Don’t get carried away with your love for the grammatical technicalities in Japanese texts for the English language.

        These things bloat, engorge, and float away in nirvanas of grammar.

        But almost no one having spent years using them can speak English. Or understand it spoken. Or write it. Or particularly well read it. That’s why, on international rankings of Japanese ability with English, Japan always disgraces itself.

      • Gordon Graham

        “International rankings of Japanese ability with English”, “well read it”? I think you had better run not walk to your nearest book store and purchase one of those grammar texts you so love to criticize.

      • kyushuphil

        If I’d made a mistake — a typo, or a blunder — I could easily correct it. Disqus has an ‘edit” function which makes correction simple — for a typo or obvious error.

        But there’s no error here. What you see is a grammatical series, governed by the auxiliary “almost no one . . . can” and then in clear succession the four verbs, “speak .. understand . . . write . . . [o]r . . . read.”

        There’s no error — except in the fact of your own life, where you’ve made yourself a troll, with ample time to sit at your computer only to jump on people for no good reason, and further unwittinly to display your ignorance.

      • Gordon Graham

        If you’re too proud to improve upon your cryptic syntax then you shouldn’t be frustrated when you’re misunderstood. As for trolling, when someone builds themselves up to be indispensable at the expense of second grade elementary school students, ESL students who can barely order food and disengaged train station employees, I feel compelled to tell that person to consider that there are Japanese with MBAs who have also lived abroad and are now waiting tables in Akasaka. Perhaps it would serve the young lady well to parlay that psychology degree into something more practical in Munich, like Marketing for example. It’s a competitive world. It’s naive of her to think her Japanese passport is a free pass into a Japanese company. As for my life, I enjoy a surplus of leisure time in which I often come across a cacophony of consensus of clapping, barking seals on the Internet who take comfort in their mutual disdain for the Japanese. As a Canadian who values loyalty, I like to stick up for my friends.

      • kyushuphil

        Good for you “to stick up for” your friends — to watch out against those who may “comfort in their mutual disdain for the Japanese.”

        The girl in question, Momoko Ueda, does not at all “think her Japanese passport is a free pass into a Japanese company.” As a relative outsider even to her native country, she went to some good lengths in her letter to explain how she had felt she had much to catch up with in her native country. She took nothing for granted — and did much to try to catch up.

        You may have a thing about people and their disrespect — “their mutual disdain for the Japanese.” But this doesn’t license you to impose your thing on others as quick and rashly as you’ve done here.

        Momoko Ueda reported on a couple key ways in which her fellow countrymen fail to be open to the world, in the world. This by no means automatically counts for full-out, over-generalized “disdain.”

        Japanese in high positions say they want to join the world — to key the Japanese economy much more to the world. If they’re going to do this, they’re going to have to meet the challenges Momoko Ueda well sees.

        If you’re a friend of the Japanese, read them more carefully before you pounce on them, too.

      • Gordon Graham

        I think Ms.Ueda was crystal clear on what the illustrator, Adam Pasion picked up on and you clearly missed.

      • kyushuphil

        What?

        You’re attacking Momoko Ueda for Adam Pasion’s drawing?

        He’s wrong, simple-minded, to dramatize her observations as smug, overly-generalized childish, child-like diatribe.

        Momoko Ueda clearly has enough positive feelings for the land of her birth, and for the culture she’s tried to keep up with for many years, so she still has motivation to work here. But she’s found obstacles — not enough so she’d make such stupid generalization as does Pasion, and as you jump to join.

        The Japanese, despite, or along with, their great culture, also have some limits in the larger world. Sōseki saw these limits. Junichiro Tanizaki saw them. Yosano Akiko. Ariyoshi Sawako. Hayashi Fumiko.

        Are you really so ignorant of Japanese culture that you live only in a manga world? You understand nothing of the great challenges that the best of Japanese culture has long been engaging?

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m taking Ms.Ueda to task for portraying the Japanese as foolish and ignorant in order to prop herself up.

      • kyushuphil

        No — you’re seeing only one simpleton cartoonist “portraying the Japanese as foolish and ignorant.”

        Momoko Ueda is not at all foolish or ignorant. Her writing makes clear that she is well aware of her limitations — not foolish about them at all.

        You are yet ignoring the good history of great figures from Japanese culture who have made arguments similar to what Momoko Ueda says. If you think she’s saying this only “to prop herself up,” do you belittle Sōseki, Yosano Akiko, Ariyoshi Sawako, Hayashi Fumiko, Dazai Osamu, Junichirō Tanizaki, Murakami Haruki, and well-known others who’ve said the same things before her?

        Get your mind out of your childish, manga simpleton thinking. Quit speaking of Japanese culture when you know so little of it. And quit attacking good Japanese simply because you feel entitled as a westerner to impose your ill-informed arrogance.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m clearly not calling Ms.Ueda ignorant nor have I ever read manga (let’s stick to what I actually say and not what you imagine). I’m merely responding to what Ms.Ueda, herself wrote.

      • kyushuphil

        You are responding to Adam Pasion’s cartoon — and only that juvenile childishness.. Manga? It’s cartoon, and simple-minded cartoonishness. You may not yourself read manga, but you cite Adam Pasion with pride — as if that drawing of his were what Momoko Ueda said.

        She’s not writing this for any of the wrong-headed reasons you’ve till this point said. Not “to prop herself up.” Not to assume entitlement to some Japanese job. You’ve been wrong on all counts.

        Many westerners, unfortunately, are like you. You come here for your various but grossly ill-educated reasons — and you think you may be responding to Japanese, and to Japanese culture, when you know next to nothing of Japanese culture.

        And you end up pouncing on decent Japanese, or international Japanese prose, only on the basis of having seen some stupid cartoon.

        You know nothing of the long-standing criticism by Japanese of some deep-rooted habits of Japanese in power and in institutions. You know nothing of this great and honorable literature, or else you’d cheer Momoko Ueda for her contribution to it, rather than boorishly jeer her as in all your ignorance you do.

      • Gordon Graham

        I simply cautioned Ms. Ueda that belittling others to make oneself look superior by comparison more often than not has an undesired effect…ie: it makes you come off as arrogant. Where all that trumpeting about Japanese culture came from I have no idea, but it was riveting! I swear I heard a crescendo of background music swelling along with my heart!

      • kyushuphil

        You did not simply do as you now claim you simply did.

        You attacked and belittled her on the basis off simply stupid cartoonish ideas you got elsewhere.

        And now, to prove your crude boorishness as ignorant westerner, you spoof the “trumpeting about Japanese culture.”

        If you had any other than juvenile notions of Japanese culture, you’d see that Momoko Ueda was not talking about institutional habits in Japan only “to make [her]self look superior by comparison.” But you cannot see the greater cultural tradition to which she belongs, the greater purpose to which she speaks, because your cartoonish limitations allow you only to laugh at the notion of some larger culture.

        Long ago I was translator/interpreter of Vietnamese. I was Spec. 5 in the U.S. Army — an organization then with people at its top, and atop the State Dept., who were very, very bright boys. Whiz kids. “The Best and the Brightest.” But they all had totally as clownish notions of any deeper local Asian culture then than you do now.

        It makes for disaster, you clowns, you bullies.

      • Gordon Graham

        What was that again about ad hominem? I enjoin anyone who isn’t prone to bringing up Nanking in response to an article on returnees re-integrating into society, or going off on diatribes about the inefficacy of the Japanese school system in response to an article on Japan “being a haven for the pyschologically troubled”, to read Ms.Ueda’s own words and judge for themselves whether or not she has undercut the Japanese and propped herself up by comparison ( just the right amount of self-deprecation…and through no fault of her own of course, to allow herself license to do so, aside).

      • kyushuphil

        This is my second “reply” to you on your most recent.

        But this, I feel, might work.

        Go online. Find the text of the speech Murakami Haruki gave in Barcelona in June, 2011.

        He’s Japan’s most famous writer internationally. You can’t dismiss him as you do the mere girl Momoko Ueda. And he says the same things the mere girl says about how dangerously closed is the circle of habits around Japan’s business (and government) elites.

        He rips them orifices they never knew they had — so closed in so many mortally dangerous ways they are (as mere girl can see and say even if more cautiously, too).

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m sorry, but I’ll have to decline on your suggestion. I’ve read my fill of Murakami and to be frank he’s bored me to capacity. I’m not as enamoured with sullen, self-absorbed joggers who dismiss those not of his ilk as two-dimensional peripheries, as you are.

      • kyushuphil

        This is “reply” not to the commenter, but to the comment.

        Anyone who reads this please know that Murakami Haruki’s speech in Barcelona, June of 2011, differs greatly from all his novels.

        He will likely be remembered in the future not for any of his novels, but for this one speech. Put all his novels together, and that total doesn’t approximate the value of this speech. All the rhetorical ploys he uses in his novels, his time-shifting conceits, his love of pop culture, his love of serial grammar to convey the pop — none of this is in the speech.

        People will be reprinting, anthologizing, and quoting this speech long after all his novels have been forgotten.

      • Gordon Graham

        There goes that confounding music again!

  • gracey

    Momoko, considering that you are a woman, Japan is really a bad place for you to go home to. Japan’s gender gap (105)is much higher than Kenya’s (78) , or in fact, much higher than all the countries you’ve lived. I know – I am a non-Japanese Asian woman from a country where a growing majority of executives and CEOs are women. It’s hard to swallow the “OL” culture, where many women are (raised to be) colorfully painted shells with nothing in the inside. But in Japan, a proper Japanese woman must know her place, it’s offensive to challenge the status quo (very un-”wa”-like). And I totally agree with the (lack of) “global” thinking, I found that Japanese are fed with stereotypes from the day they enter school so they have a “fixed” (and uniform) image of what a foreigner from xxx country is like, it’s absurd or downright offensive. Do yourself a favor, I advice you- stay away.

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      I second this notion. Do not let your talents go to waste in Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Not to worry, Ms Ueno, foreign businesses will “pounce” on someone who can speak two languages and has…er..ah..a BA in psychology. I suppose the illiterate, backwards Japanese will have to plod on without your insights and simply have to make due making a killing in overseas markets they know nothing about.

  • Gordon Graham

    If you’re comfortable making claims and attributing them to me, feel free to feed your argument.